On February 12, World Rugby launched its 2024 call for applications to fund player welfare research projects. Studies funded by World Rugby, including the ORCHID (Otago Community Head Impact Detection) study first published last year, has seen the game benefit from a broad breadth of sport specific research into player welfare.

The international federation is committed to funding rugby specific medical and scientific research as part of its six-point plan to make the sport the most progressive in the world on player welfare. Announced in 2021, a focus on welfare for former players, women and the community game sit at the heart of the plan which takes a science and engagement-led approach to the issues.

Since 2015, World Rugby has awarded more than £1.5 million to fund custom research projects by independent bodies, helping to advance its evidence-based approach to injury prevention, management and education. A further £2 million has been spent funding technological advancements, first used in player welfare research such as smart mouthguards.

Applications can be made through April 12 via World Rugby’s funding application portal to be considered. Complete applications are sent for review by independent academic experts from the federation's Scientific Committee. Funding guidance can be accessed here.

The research topics the federation is most interested in supporting include: 

  • Concussion 
  • Injury surveillance and prevention at all levels of the game 
  • Player welfare research in women’s rugby 
  • Transgender participation 
  • Anti-doping 
  • Mental health and substance abuse 
  • Long-term health consequences of rugby participation 

World Rugby also invites tenders for more targeted projects identified by its medical working groups as priorities for research. Calls for tender for these projects will be publicized as they are identified.

“I would encourage any academic or group of academics with ambitions of conducting rugby specific research to consider applying for our research grants. World Rugby is the largest funder of research of this type and we need independent research to continue to advance our understanding and make rugby as safe as possible for all participants,” said World Rugby Chief Executive Alan Gilpin.


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